Author Archive

It’s been a year since we ripped the doors off our rickety kitchen cabinets and took a sledgehammer to our pink tile floors – our renovation dragged on a little longer than planned, but has been done for several months now and should be shared here on the blog while it’s still relatively shiny and new!  Our appliances are already dotted with baby handprints and I fear it’s only a matter of time before Isaac gouges our cabinets with his favorite toy car…

First, the before:  When we bought our house, we put kitchen remodel on the 5-year plan.  It was functional (mostly), but pretty dark and a little dinged up and not in line with the clean, crisp vibe I’ve been breathing into each room, one by one.  I mean, the black granite tile counters do bring a certain early 90’s charm to the space, but that’s not entirely what we’re going for here.

I always found this corner awkward and under-used – we didn’t need a breakfast nook with our dining room table just a few feet away, so it often became a holding pen for rain boots and Amazon packages.

The fridge/pantry situation was no good – a previous owner / handyman Joe had cut a hole out of the wall so that the fridge could be pushed back out of the way, but this meant that one wall of the pantry was taken up with the exposed back of the refrigerator.  And I didn’t love the fully-exposed side of the fridge.

I know “open concept” wasn’t en vogue when our house was built in the ’50’s, but the kitchen felt so hemmed in.  I immediately had visions of us freeing up this corner for better kitchen/living connectivity.

So finally, after belaboring every little detail and drawing up 14 different layouts and soliciting high-medium-low bids (“low” is relative in this market!), we settled on a plan and signed up a contractor and let the demo games begin.  Shane and I offered to take on the demo scope ourselves, mostly to save on the labor cost, but also because demolition is very gratifying work.  The Rusts were over for a backyard meal that Friday night and the boys couldn’t resist the lure of the drill – they got started right after dinner while I scrambled to shuttle our dishes down to the basement.  Sayonara, cabinets, with your squeaky drawers and mysterious odor and peeling finish!  No love lost there.

I was out of the house for much of the day on Saturday while Shane and Juliette busted a major move.

No horrific surprises, as is always a fear when you’re taking apart a 70 year-old home, but we uncovered a couple of treasures, like the beige tile counters directly under the black granite and the three layers of linoleum under the tile flooring.

This is remodeling:  it always has to get so much worse before it gets better.

But…I’m starting to see that open corner?

The wall we removed was load-bearing and required a new beam in the ceiling, but once that was hoisted into place and the old studs were removed, I started to move from terrified to excited.  Already so much better.

Electrical was roughed in and then things were quiet for a couple of weeks while we waited for drywall.  But once drywall was hung, Juliette and I stepped in to slap it all with a fresh coat of white paint.

I was quite pregnant by this point and leveraged my growing belly to get the contractor to pick up the pace.  This project had a due date!

Juliette left her mark on the wall behind the fridge.  ISAAC!  We were so excited to meet you.

Painted and ready for flooring, which I’d decided at the last minute to change to Red Oak planks to match our existing living room floors.  Shane had to drive to Home Depot in Spokane to pick up what seemed to be the only 2 1/4″ Red Oak in the state, but he did it.

Ten hours in the car well-spent, Shane.

Cabinet day!  Thrilling.

Down to the details.

But Sweet Jesus, what a mess.  Our kitchen and living room were stuffed into our basement and bedrooms and then the insulators showed up and needed access to the attic through the guest room closet and all of that crap ended up on our bed for a day and I felt like I was living in a hoarder’s house.  We hung in there, but there were points when the stress of the mess felt crushing.

There were a couple of hiccups near the end, like when I asked the tile guy to pull down half a day’s work because the white tile I ordered looked dingy and gray next to our beautiful new countertops, and when the floor refinisher told us we needed to be out of the house for two separate weekends while the fumes cleared, and then when I went and had a baby before things were all wrapped up, but eventually, it was done.

And I love it.

The awkward nook is super-functional now with tons of storage and a bench/shoe drawer and the open shelving of my dreams.

And that open corner is so handy for keeping an eye on the little rascal.

It’s not always this clean (it’s never this clean), but it’s bright and there’s a place for everything and our new dishwasher doesn’t sound like a garbage truck.  I’m so grateful.

May: Glorious bouts of sunshine, weekends at the softball and soccer fields, and more quality time with Grandma and Grandpa!  My dad joined my mom in Seattle at the beginning of the month to pitch in on the childcare front as Isaac transitioned into daycare.  It was such a treat to have my parents with us for an extended amount of time and see them fold into our day-in and day-out.

Grocery shopping with an extra set of hands is so helpful – one cart for the baby, one cart for the food.  And speaking of helpful, Isaac feeds himself now!

My mom and I made quite a ritual out of our morning coffee and spent our few weeks together perfecting our grounds-to-water ratio in the French Press and the Chemex.

We also zeroed in on our favorite wine varietals for evening Happy Hour…

My mom held Isaac extra-close on her last evening here – she fell pretty hard for him, with his generous smiles and sweet baby nuzzles.

I mean, how could you not?

(For the record, Juliette got plenty of love, too!)

Mother’s Day was a mostly-chill Sunday, though Shane was thoughtful in layering on a couple of thoughtful touches.  The signet rings he ordered me with the kids’ initials were late in arriving, so he and Juliette dashed out for a backup gift.  Isaac helped me tear into it, and the look on his face says it all.  You got Mom a…?

Leaf blower?  Indeed!  And I LOVE IT.

Juliette made me a card and “Isaac” made me this funny bouquet at daycare.

I always request French toast when homemade brunch is offered.

We got out for a short post-brunch family bike ride and discovered Isaac loves the feel of the wind in his hair.  Er…helmet.

My crew…I’m the luckiest mama.

May saw the end of softball season and dang it, I’ll miss watching these Dragons round the bases!

Isaac is also a fan.

Shane has often commended Juliette’s hustle, and it’s true – this kid leaves nothing on the field.

Saturdays were for softball and Sundays are for soccer.

It’s a pretty ideal way to pass a sunny afternoon, on a blanket with my boy while his sister dashes back and forth in front of us.

BAHHHHH!

May also brought several school festivities and after two years of hardly getting to interact with Juliette’s teacher or classmates, it was nice to spend an evening at the 2nd grade Spring Fling.

And the annual Move-A-Thon!  Issac and I walked over to the school parking lot on a sunny Friday to see how many laps Juliette could run in the space of 20 minutes.

Answer:  A LOT.

Playground weather is upon us and we’ve been heading down to Ercolini a couple times a week, first for the swings, but also for the plethora of riding toys.

See what I said earlier about the wind in his hair?!

Sister snaps:

And finally, cozy-time at home, because May certainly isn’t all sunshine and parks.  Chair snugs…

Couch snugs..

And floor snugs.  We’re a lovey-dovey bunch.

Juliette and I took a stroll during West Seattle’s big Garage Sale Saturday and she came home with this getup – we’re covered for Halloween 2022!

Or maybe just for a typical Friday night, knowing how this girl likes to roll…

Juliette also picked up this puzzle from a yard sale, which I thought was a terrible idea, but she loves a challenge!

Shane and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary with homemade Manhattans, fancy takeout, and a living room viewing of Top Gun while Isaac slept and Juliette spent the night at friend’s house.

I slept like a baby after that Manhattan, but Juliette got hardly any shut-eye during her slumber party.  She came home a bit of a mess and I asked her if she wanted to lay down with me, like old times, and voila…I still got it.

And now it’s June and it’s been awfully rainy, but I’m sure we’ll make it back outside for some backyard brunching before the month is over.  I think the best is yet to come.

I know I open each monthly update with, “I can’t believe how he’s grown!”, but YOU GUYS. I can’t believe how he’s grown.  Four weeks ago Isaac was still struggling to figure out how to crawl, perching awkwardly on his hands and knees and making the tiniest moves forward if I placed a toy just out of reach.

But then it suddenly clicked; he mastered his arm-leg coordination on a Saturday in early May and that day was one of the happiest he’d had in weeks – my dad and I watched baseball in the living room while Isaac zipped around on the floor, stopping every couple of minutes to contentedly play with a toy or read (err…chew on) a book. He reveled in his independence. Then tried to help himself to Grandpa’s chips and beer as a reward. FREEZE, kiddo!

Suddenly I had a fully-mobile child who can follow me around the house and pull on my pants leg while I’m washing dishes and attempt to crawl into the fireplace when no one is looking. He’s fast. And incredibly proud of himself.

Life is now a chorus of “Isaac, don’t go in there!” (said as he beelines for the fireplace) and “Isaac, that’s not for eating!” (said as he picks up Shane’s shoe by the front door) and “Isaac, no touching!” (said as he reaches for my beloved fiddle leaf plant) and “ISAAAAAAAC!” (said all the time, really). It’s exhausting. But the games of hide and seek are awfully fun. That smile, when he discovers me crouched behind the couch, make up for the tipped-over house plants.

He found Sister!

In addition to crawling like a big kid, he’s eating like a young buck – I’d been holding back on solids because of he wasn’t super-interested in them and was so prone to getting plugged up, but once my mom and I figured out that a steady breakfast of prunes and yogurt keep him regular, his menu has broken wide open. Baby boy loves avocados and cheese and especially little bits of grass-fed beef sausages (ok, they’re hot dogs!). He sucks down fruit and veggie pouches and pounds the bananas and strawberries like there’s no tomorrow.

His booster seat now doubles as a barber’s chair; Isaac’s hair was falling across his forehead and into his eyes, so my mom gave him his first trim last month while he sat not-so-patiently in his chair.  He has some long wisps near his ears that are driving me crazy, but I don’t love the thought of wielding scissors so close to his lobes when he’s so wiggly – he might be getting his next cut in his sleep!

The only waking hours when he’s really still are when we’re out and about – he still loves the stroller and is typically very chill in his carseat.  The shopping cart is a new favorite.  Like his sister, he’s an excellent errand buddy.

Isaac started daycare at the beginning of May and has largely weathered the transition like a champ.  A few tears at drop-off, but he seems to love being around other babies during the day and is all smiles when we pick him up.  Man, he’s tired, though.  Completely tuckered by 5pm, wanting to doze in my arms during Juliette’s soccer practice or grab a quick snooze in the Ergo during our evening walks.

Sometimes, though, the evening walks are all giggles.

And…the tidal wave of cute pics, starting with the sweetest of crib pick-ups.

Chair pics, of course.

And…just Isaac being Isaac.  This boy is a handful and a half, but he really is such a cheery, fun-loving little guy.

Oh, Buddy.  Friday mornings, after we’ve dropped Sister off at school and it’s Mama-Isaac time, make me so very happy.

Happy three-quarter birthday, Baby.

March was for savoring the quietude of maternity leave, but April was for finding a new family groove as I returned to the office (can’t say we’ve quite found that groove, but we’re getting there day by day).

Goodness, I dreaded saying good-bye to my babies after seven months of full-time momming…  Juliette and I had a good cry in her bed on Sunday night as I tucked her in, which I think was therapeutic for us both; by the time I had to leave the next morning for my first day back, she was cheering me on with, “Don’t miss your bus, Mama!  And I love your shoes!”  Isaac went with the flow and loved hanging out with Nancy that first week – I think he hardly missed me, but was still awfully happy to land back in my arms at the end of the day.

Shane’s parents came out to visit and watch the kiddos during my second week back at work (the daycare waiting game is no joke!), and both kids ate up the extra attention.  Juliette played a song for them on her keyboard and Denny about fell out of his chair as he gushed over her talent.  #1 fan, no doubt.

Isaac took to Grandma and Grandpa right away – he loved sitting in Pat’s lap and pulling on Denny’s beard.

Grandma is the BEST baking buddy.

Juliette wowed Grandpa with her batting skills…

And Isaac did what he does best, which is look cute.

We missed them the minute they left – good-bye felt especially hard this time around, as we know Isaac will be so much different next time they seem him and Juliette becomes more emotionally attached to her grandparents with each visit.  “It’s just so hard that they live so far away!”, Juliette cried as they hit the road that morning.  I know, kiddo, I know!

Once Denny and Pat left and we’d dried our tears, I offered to take Juliette out for a little pick-me-up.  It was the last day of her Spring Break, so I thought we were due for an adventure – I gave her a handful of options and she chose a visit to the Space Needle.

We let Isaac tag along because Shane had to work, and because like I mentioned, HE’S CUTE.

There was an hour-long wait to go to the top of the Needle, so we passed some time at the Seattle Center playground.

Baby boy really likes the swing.

And then, it was time!

I haven’t been to the top of the Space Needle since they replaced their wire mesh fencing with these panes of floor-to-ceiling glass, and wowsers!  It’s pretty remarkable, stepping off the elevators to an obstruction-free panoramic view of the Sound on a sky-blue day.

Don’t lean back, Juliette!  That’s some thick glass, but still…makes my stomach flip.

Chilling on the glass floor…

And our final descent…  Our Spring Break mini-adventure was a total hit with both kids – such a stunner of a day.

We celebrated Easter morning at home, with bunny ears in bed and goody baskets and the church service streaming while we ate our cinnamon rolls.

Juliette grabbed these ears from the Target dollar bin and was so excited to matchy-match her brother.  He really is like the best-ever baby doll sometimes.

Isaac can’t be trusted with hard-boiled Easter eggs, or with jelly bean-filled plastic eggs for that matter, so squeakers it is!  These have been the gift that keep on giving.

We put the finishing touches on our Easter treats and then headed over to the Rusts for Sunday brunch.

Hat buddies!

Juliette really wanted to do an egg hunt and the older boys were so sweet to indulge her and join the fun.

Ok, let’s be honest – the thirteen year-old was totally into it.

The photos we’ve taken on these steps!  So many memories with this bunch.

Buddy, I promise not to make you wear this headband again (for another 11 months), but lemme tell you…it looks so, so good on you.

And Mama-Jules pics, because hey!  I wore something other than leggings on a weekend.

My mom arrived on Easter evening to watch Isaac for week 3 (and 4, 5, 6…).  Again, he was a friendly little dude and settled right into Grandma’s arms.

There were a handful of days when Isaac ran her a little ragged (he’s not a dream all the time), but she took it in stride and loved on him throughout the short naps and the bouts of fussiness.  Plus, the extra set of hands in the kitchen to cook and clean up was invaluable as I adjusted to my new work day.  Shane and I were so, so thankful for her help.

In hindsight we should have done this more often during her time here, but on one precious evening we handed all kid duties to Shane and headed out for a cocktail.  We earned it.

April also saw the start of Spring soccer, and Isaac and I have found the lawn at Alki Playfields to be a perfect place to pass a Sunday afternoon.

Juliette gives it all she has every time, zipping up and down the field with flushed cheeks and tired legs.  Girl’s got heart.

And softball season continues!  Our weekends are a myriad of sporting events, and I love it.

Isaac loves it, too.

April evenings were spent walking around the neighborhood, savoring that fleeting season when the cherry blossoms and the tulips burst with peak color.

Our neighbor, Miss Pat, has an amazing collection of tulips – much as I’d love to make it up to Skagit Valley in the Spring, this suffices.

Isaac had a doctor’s appointment recently where a nurse told me that he had a “very mature face” (like an old man, I believe she meant?), and I see it here.  Maybe it’s the pre-bedtime sleepy lines under his eyes!

Juliette bikes around the block while we walk, and we cross paths every now and then.

One of my most favorite cherry blossom trees…

And a Friday morning walk with Nancy for more blossom viewing.

April felt busy as I transitioned to a new work-life balance, but there was still plenty of home time, plenty of hanging out in the yard…

Lounging on the sofa…

Puzzle-doing…

And lazy weekends with late wake-ups (Isaac, take a memo from your sister!).

Onto May – the joy in the juggling act continues.

Goodness, month 8 ran the gamut.  So many developmental changes for this boy that alternately made him giddy with excitement and disastrously exhausted.  

Most notably, by the end of April Zig-Zag (new nickname courtesy of the Rusts) was on the move!  He started getting up onto his hands and knees during playtime and quickly figured out how to crawl…backwards.  He’d perch for a moment with his butt in the air, rocking back and forth like a race car revving his engine at the starting line, and then take off toward whatever object he had in sight, ending up two feet farther away from it than where he started.  He found this very frustrating.  But as a spectator, it was maybe a tiny bit amusing?

This was peak frustration.

Get it, Buddy!

He started unleashing new levels of exuberance in the bathtub, getting out all that pent-up pre-crawling energy by splashing like a madman.  He’d flail with abandon and then blink at me in his almost-empty tub with water droplets clinging to his eyelashes, like “what just happened?!”.

Four new teeth broke through last month and now he has top chompers to match those two bottom chicklets he’s had since January.  I love this toothy grin!  He spent a week constantly grinding his top and bottom teeth together as he made sense of his new mouth (that sound was nails on a chalkboard to me!), but he’s eased up and settled in.

There was a week in early April when Isaac slept a solid 12 hours two nights in a row.  Such a thoughtful return-to-work gift from my boy!  We were on the right sleep track.  And then he fell back into waking up around 3am to eat, which was fine, but then it was midnight and 3am, which was less fine, and then it was sometimes 10pm and midnight and 2am and then up for the day 5:00 and THAT WAS NOT OK.  He slept better as a newborn than he did as an eight month old.  We’re getting back on track and I’m optimistically going to chalk that up to a short-lived sleep regression, but crap, that was rough.

On the flipside, we made progress on the nap front and he now goes down for his daytime dozes with hardly a peep.  For the record, I do put him in his crib.  Most days.

Ah, and the post-nap pickup!  My favorite.  Once awake, he pops up on his hands and knees (and recently started sitting up on his own) and jabbers until one of us scoops him up.

Too much, this kid!

*Yes, he was clearly verging on a jailbreak – his crib has since been lowered.

Other random tidbits…

He still loves walks and becomes wonderfully zen once strapped into his stroller.

Unless that walk is to pick up sister from school, in which case he quickly goes from zen to giddy.

His favorite toy is this xylophone – at first because he loved to chew on the mallet, but then because he realized it’s LOUD if he hits it hard enough.

He also loves a good Rubick’s Cube.

Lazy Saturday mornings, when I get to drop him in bed with Juliette once she wakes up, are THE BEST.

Lazy Saturday afternoons, when we get to nap together (a rare treat, but I can occasionally finagle it!) are a close second.

Obligatory chair pics!

The sweetest toes that wiggle and stretch as he settles into nursing.

Little Rascal hair.

And oh, BABY BOY…  I miss the bejeezus out of you while I’m at work, but you make coming home so much fun.

Isaac, how you’ve changed in just the two weeks since your 8-month birthday!  I can hardly keep up.  Literally. (Spoiler alert – he’s mastered the forward crawl!)

Ah, March…March was full of long walks and longer naps as I soaked up my final few weeks of maternity leave.  That period of work-free life was made even more luxurious by the fact that Shane had a couple of weeks off between jobs, so we brunched with Isaac and played a little pickle ball and took more walks.  I ticked off a good chunk of to-do’s and then frantically relaxed, if that’s a thing, knowing how precious that time off of work was.

On the weekends Juliette joined us on our shenanigans.  Harry’s Beach House brunch is still our all-time fave.

March also brought on the onset of Juliette’s first softball season; she’s got team practice once a week, but requests bonus catching and batting time on evenings and weekends.

This patch of dirt at Hiwatha is where we spend our Saturday afternoons now!

And then, the long-anticipated first game!  The dugout was buzzing with excitement as girls pulled out their bats and helmets and checked the line-up.  Gosh, I love watching kids sports – what they lack in skill, they make up for in enthusiasm.

Gooooooo Dragons!

Juliette was a champ; she got a couple of hits, fielded a couple of grounders, and gleefully cheered on each of her teammates when they stepped up to the plate.

Isaac wins the award for Sweetest Spectator.

Game two was even more fun to watch, as the girls fell into the swing of things.

When we’re not soft-balling, we’re play-grounding.

This boy loves the feel of grass between his fingers – every time we set him down on a nice juicy lawn, he looks at me like, “why have you been keeping me inside all these months?!”.

Shane’s pickleball infatuation continues and has taken root in a good few of our friends.  I’m happy to hang with Isaac while the crew plays, but have hopped in for the occasional match.  I see the draw – a good volley is so satisfying.

March wasn’t all sunshine and playgrounds – there were plenty of rainy days that kept us indoors for tickle fights and snuggle fests.

And crafting!  Juliette had a few friends over one morning for a couple of hours of cutting and gluing and listening to Taylor Swift.

Isaac was the belle of the ball.  Little ham!

And finally, March brought Spring blooms.  Every year I find myself stunned by how good our neighborhood looks in the springtime.

Juliette gives cherry blossoms two thumbs up.

Misty mornings, sunny afternoons…either way, these tunnels of blooms are some kinda magic.

Walks with my boy…I love them so much.

It’s in the 60’s as I type this and I’m hoping we’ve put our beanies away for the season, but last month they got plenty of use.

I looked so happy carrying Isaac in the Ergo that Juliette decided to strap her favorite puppy to her chest.  She dressed him in one of Isaac’s old onesies and grabbed one of Isaac’s hats.  Such a little mama, this girl.

We strolled down this cherry blossom row, just a block from our house, every chance we got.

And then on April 4th I returned to the office and we all got to work finding our new groove.  It’s been easier and harder and better and worse than I expected, depending on the day.  I’m so thankful for those several months I had to focus just on holding my babes close.  Best job ever.

7 months and filling out so much more of his corner of the gray rocking chair these days…

And let’s just admire this belly for a moment!

I head back to work in a couple of days and so this past month I’ve been walking the line between giving my boy whatever he wants whenever he wants it and moving him toward some sort of feeding and napping schedule for the sake of his future caregivers.  I tried to quit the lap naps cold turkey a couple of weeks ago but have since realized that he’s more flexible than I gave him credit for – I can nurse and rock him for a morning nap if that’s what my heart desires and he’ll only raise a minor stink if I drop him in his crib for his afternoon snooze.  Snuggles it is!

And still so happy to see me if I’ve made him sleep alone…

He’s much stronger than he was a month ago and much prefers to be sitting rather than laying.  Lots of time spent in his booster seat by the window watching the world go by…

And sitting up on the floor with very few tumbles!  I can leave him perched on a soft blanket next to a basket of toys and he’s good to go for several minutes.  He woke up super-early a couple of days ago and once I accepted he wasn’t going back to sleep, I set him on his blanket with his favorite playthings.  I laid down on the floor next to him and woke up almost an hour later with buddy still going strong!

I’m a little more careful about leaving him on the bed with all the rolling around he’s doing, but he does love a cushy mattress.

We’re still working on the food sitch, but it is (usually) fun to have him join us at the dinner table.  I feed Isaac, Juliette feeds one of her stuffies…we’re one big happy fam.

Isaac gets so excited by his mixture of yogurt and applesauce that he’s eagerly grabbing for the spoon before I can even get the food in his mouth.  So now snack time takes three spoons…one for me, one for each of this hands.

He seems to think that if he puts an empty spoon into a mouth full of food, he’s feeding himself.  We’ll get there, kiddo!

His perforated teething pacifier with a chunk of apple or frozen peach is a cleaner, surer bet if I’m looking to keep him happy while I cook (or attempt to actually feed myself!).

And…toes for dessert?

It still feels like there aren’t a ton of outings we can do that will actually engage him, but this boy does love his swings.  He also loves watching other kids play on the playground and is mesmerized by the sight of other babies.  Bodes well for daycare!

We’ve largely given up the 5pm stroller doze but have incorporated the 6pm Ergo walk into our evening routine.  I love this part of the day, feeling him mellow out as he nestles into my chest.  7pm bedtime can quickly devolve into a complete shitshow, but for these few minutes, we’re so happy together.

The stroller nap does still occasionally happen if we’re out and about and he’s completely tuckered.  I have a photo of Juliette passed out in her carseat clutching this same giraffe.

EIGHT years ago!

He learned how to blow spit bubbles last month and thinks it’s great fun.  Juliette tells him he’s being gross, but true to form as the taunting little bro, this just makes him do it more.

It’s especially great when he comes in for an open-mouthed kiss with a chin dripping with drool.

Savoring these long, quiet days at home together.

And afternoons with sister.

Oh, Bud…to have the luxury of time to so attentively watch you grow has been a dream.  As you laid in my lap yesterday and so carefully studied your hands, wiggling your fingers as you seemed to discover they were yours, I thought, this is the stuff.  The stuff I’m so thankful to bear witness to.  On Monday we’ll both spread our wings a little wider.  But know that on evenings, on Fridays, on weekends, and even in the middle of the night if you really, really need it, we’ll meet at our beloved gray chair.  There’s still plenty of rocking to be done.

One last batch of island photos.  Need I even narrate?  More of the same old, same old.  That glorious Maui same old, same old…

We scored the perfect pool chairs on Tuesday morning and camped out there for several hours.  Isaac took his first and second naps poolside while Juliette popped out of the water only for her hourly sunscreen application.

I swam for awhile with Juliette while Isaac dozed in his dad’s arms.  I always went down the slides first, partly so that I could be at the bottom when Juliette landed, but also because I loved to look back at her as I slid out of view, her beaming at me and yelling, “Go Mommy!!!”.  Eight is great – she’s so much fun to pal around with these days.

And…he’s up again!  Time for lunch.

We drove up to Paia and chowed down on pizza from the Paia Flatbread Company – their Mopsy pizza with Kalua pork and pineapple and mange bbq sauce was outstanding.

Isaac and Juliette are achingly sweet together most of the time, but this picture is also quintessential – him unknowingly digging his nails into her arm or pulling her hair and her looking at him like, “Why would you do that?!”.

We popped over to Ho’okipa Beach after lunch to enjoy the crystal clear water and watch the kite surfers, but the wind kept us from lingering too long.  Take us back to our quiet little beach at Wailea!

Late afternoon pool play…

And then sunset at Makena Cove, which was just a few minutes south of our resort but a totally different beach landscape.

My attempts to get Isaac to nap that afternoon had been unsuccessful and I knew we were risking a sunset meltdown, but once Shane tucked him into the Bjorn, he fell into a silent daze.

Too…tired…to…fight…it.

Photog-in-training:

I had asked Juliette if she wanted to wear her swimsuit to the beach, but she said she didn’t want to get wet.  The call of the ocean never fails!  We both left with wet hems on our shorts.

Shane headed out for a cocktail with Jack after dark.  Isaac fell asleep without much fuss, Juliette started watching Hamilton for the umpteenth time, and then BANG!  We were all startled by an extensive fireworks display, which was a mostly-nice surprise, minus the baby wakeup.

Wednesday!  You know the drill.

We opted for beachfront chairs that morning and La Verne rented a couple of boogie boards for the kids.  Juliette mostly loved it, until a wave took her under and forced saltwater up her nose.

Who you lookin’ at with that mean mug, baby?!

I put Isaac in the Bjorn and waded out in the water with him, where the gentle waves could lap at his legs.

Reading break after another gnarly fight with a wave…

And more of this…  I remember feeling some baby fatigue that morning, wishing I could just put Isaac down and walk away for a couple of hours, but then a mom in a nearby chair saw me holding him and said with such sincerity, “Oh, I miss those days so much it makes my heart hurt!” and I recalibrated.  This phase is hard, but it’s also fleeting and so full of goodness when I lean into it.

The plus-side of holding a baby – nobody asks me if they can bury me in the sand!

Morning, Bud…

Juliette can’t ever resist the urge to try again.  I love that about her.

The sun felt particularly strong that day and we’d blown through most of our sunscreen, so we decided there was no shame in just enjoying an afternoon in our hotel room.

Juliette snuggled up with little bro…

And then I snuggled up with Shane, at which point Juliette exclaimed, “You two are so romantic!” and asked if she could snap a picture.  “Romantic” is one of her favorite words these days – I’m glad we make the cut.

Evening pool sesh…

And then over to the Chens’ beachfront cabana for pina coladas and one last sunset.

And…there it goes!  The kids clapped extra-loud for the sunset that night as whales flipped their fins and spouted water in the foreground.  

Tuckered.

We had an afternoon flight on Thursday, so we were able to squeeze in a couple of hours of beach play before heading the airport.

We don’t see nearly enough of these folks in Seattle – so fun to be neighbors for a few days.

And…the pool is on the way to the room, so why not?

Isaac and I headed back to the room to finish packing while Juliette and Shane did one last loop (or three) on the waterslides.  Oh, baby…you are not the easy-going-est of travel partners just yet, but I sure do like having you around.

Juliette tossed coins into the fountain as we were checking out – I asked her what her wish was and initially she said it was “to have kids some day”, but after realizing how high those stakes were and how hard it was to land a shot, she wisely adjusted course.  “I hope I have fun with my grandparents when they come to visit!”

Stuck it!

And with that, we were Seattle-bound.  I know, so many photos (kudos to Grandma Schnell for letting me know she’s looked at all of them!) but so many memories.  I want to remember forever how blonde Isaac’s hair looked in the sun, how it would get just the slightest bit curly after taking a warm nap in my arms.  I want to remember Juliette’s utter glee as she came down the waterslide, how her head would disappear underwater for just a moment and then she would emerge gulping and laughing.  Those sunrise walks with baby boy were the stuff of dreams.  Shane and Juliette’s matching Husky hats and the way those two play together as the very best of buds.  Acai bowls and fresh poke and a frosty pina colada, sipped with one of my favorite ladies.  We haven’t gotten out much these past couple of years, but ooff…what a way to re-emerge.

By Sunday we’d already fallen into a sweet little routine – I was up early with Isaac for coffee and a stroll, Shane and Juliette dozed for an extra hour or two, and then we rendezvoused at the beach to claim our chairs and soak up those morning not-too-hot hours of sun.  I came to love my sunrise walks with the baby, when the beach paths were quiet and the ocean was calm.  Traveling with a human alarm clock isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Now, onto the business of playing!  Let’s get to it!

Juliette and Nico bobbed in the waves and built sand castles and lounged on the beach chairs until the ocean called them back in again.

Freckle weather!  My favorite.

Ta-da!!!  A sand village, where all are welcome.

Meanwhile, Isaac intently watched it all go down.  He wasn’t quite ready to sit up in the sand on his own and spent all of his beach time in my or Shane’s arms.  My back was a little worse for the wear by the end of the week, but when I remembered how Juliette would dart straight into the ocean as a toddler when we visited Santa Monica, I relished the ability to keep Isaac close.

Isaac’s face here…  “Watch out for those waves, Mom!”

We found ourselves needing a sun-break by 11am and headed back to our room.  But since the pools are on the way, Juliette took a quick dip.  Swim life 4-ever.

We made the short drive up to Kihei for lunch at Kihei Cafe and then hopped over to Ululani’s for shave ice, which hits the spot like nothing else on a hot afternoon.

I’ll give you one guess as to how we spent our afternoon…

We found that our pools started to clear out around 4pm and so we took advantage of the mellow vibe and lingered until dinnertime.

While Isaac didn’t love the pool like his sister did, he’d tolerate bobbing around in Shane’s or my arms.  We’ll make a fish out of you yet, Buddy.

I recall this evening as one of our favorites – good moods all around, no plans to speak of, plenty of just soaking in the joy of the moment.

Sunset from our room…

And the sweetest silhouette.

Jazz hands for another stellar day.

We mixed it up on Monday morning – Shane got out for some pickle ball while Juliette and Nico took a ukulele lesson at the hotel.  First, though, ACAI!

While the kids worked on chords, I walked with Isaac.  I must have gone up and down this beach path a dozen times in our few days there, but it never got old.

I thought maybe we would leave the resort that day, but…nah.

The waterslides stopped running at 4pm, so Juliette and I darted to the topmost slide at 3:50 and managed to hit 9 out of 10 slides in 10 minutes.  We were quite proud of ourselves.

5pm beach rendezvous…

And a picnic dinner from Island Market at our favorite spot.

Something about a good sunset just makes you want to put your arms around the people you love.

I took Isaac back to the room while the rest of the gang went out for ice cream and while it was hard to bid farewell to our friends at 6:30, I can’t imagine a sweeter place to nurse a sun-kissed baby to sleep.

Until a couple of weeks ago, the last time our family boarded a plane was in February 2020 when we went to Maui for a glorious week of swimming and beaching and sight-seeing.  We’ve often harked back to that trip over the past couple of years – at the time, we were so blissfully unaware of how drastically life as we knew it was about to change.  Shane and I started making plans for Maui 2021 before we’d even landed back in Seattle!  Last year’s trip clearly didn’t happen, but we were bound and determined to spend this year’s mid-winter break someplace warm and sunny.  Since the Covid-related news is largely encouraging right now, and since we had the hotel points to luxe it up at the Grand Wailea, we decided to go for it – let’s bookend this pandemic (knock on wood) in Hawaii!

We were up at 4 am to catch our early flight and while the shlepping of the car seat and the extra baby stuff and the baby himself left Shane and me a bit sweaty by the time we got to the gate, we boarded without a hitch.  Let’s goooooo!

Juliette gave Isaac an ‘A’ for his in-flight behavior.  I knocked him down to an ‘A-‘ only because he pooped mid-way and changing a poopy diaper in an airplane bathroom is damn near impossible, but really, he did great.  Took a couple of naps, ate some snacks, squawked just a little, and loved looking out the window.

Big sis sent him mellow vibes when he started to get antsy.

He looked out at the other planes as we taxied on the runway in Maui and then looked over at me like, “Why don’t you ever let me sit in your lap on car rides?!”

We landed around lunchtime; I had a shoulder caked in spit up and the tiniest bit of baby poop on my shirt, but we made it!  A woman who had been sitting a couple of rows behind us stopped me in the Maui airport restroom to let me know I had such a sweet babe with such an attentive big sister.  Nailed it, kids.  It was another shlep to collect our bags and get our rental car, but we managed without any crises and started to see the light at the end of the travel tunnel as we pulled away from Avis and set our GPS to Wailea.  Juliette was starry-eyed even on the relatively unremarkable drive to the hotel, saying “anytime I see palm trees I know I’m someplace special”.  I was swept up in the excitement as we pulled up to our grand hotel entrance, replete with flowers and waterfalls and fountains.  Talk about special!

Our room wasn’t quite ready, but we grabbed our swimsuits from our bags and headed right to the changing rooms – Juliette was itching to get in the water.  We found a couple of empty chairs near the kids lagoon and got down to business!

We played in the water and ate poolside burgers and then got settled into our room.  I put Isaac down for nap while Shane and Juliette sat out on the patio, but…

Buddy was far too pumped to sleep.

We changed gears and Shane took Isaac for a walk to eke out a stroller nap while Juliette and I set out on the scavenger hunt the hotel put together for kids.  We found all the landmarks and then walked down to the next-door resort to grab drinks and dinner with the Chens, who had landed just a couple of hours after us. 

Cheers, friends!  I slurped down my Mai Tai, munched on some poke, and then took the kids to the outdoor lobby to let them get the rest of their post-flight wiggles out.

Dessert to-go, served with a side of sunset…

Ahhhh…the first night of vacation.  Such a blissful, so-much-to-look-forward-to kind of feeling.

Isaac was pooped by this point, so I took him back to the room and we watched the skies turn dark from our patio while the rest of the crew hung down by the water.

It’s like Juliette was offering Maui an arms-wide hug…this place is so very easy to love.

Falling asleep was hard for Isaac, but waking up was easy!  He started rustling at 5:30 on Saturday morning, so I threw on some clothes and took him out for a walk to allow Juliette to catch some much-needed extra Z’s.  I was bleary-eyed, but Isaac was quick to remind me that hey, it was actually 7:30 Seattle time.  Thank goodness the hotel coffee shop was open.

Being up before the sun isn’t high on my list of vacation to-do’s, but gosh – this moonlit walk really eased the pain.

Literally up with the roosters…

Isaac was napping before the sun even rose, but by this point I was high on beach endorphins.  Wearing a tank top at 7am?  Felt so good.

I met up with Shane and Juliette for breakfast and chowed down on the loveliest acai bowl.

Pool time!  We snagged chairs at our favorite spot, inflated Isaac’s little raft, and spent the whole morning swimming.

And napping.

And bein’ cute.

And swimming.

Jack and La Verne had scored an extra wrist band to allow Juliette to swim at their hotel pools, so we bopped over there around lunchtime.  These kids have been buddies since birth and it thrills me to see how much they still enjoy each other.  Plus, their shared love of water is insatiable.  A perfect vacation pair.

Baby in a sun hat!  [Insert ALL the heart emojis.]

We found ourselves in need of a sunbreak by early afternoon and spent a couple of hours relaxing in our room, but Juliette was itching to do the pool circuit again before dinner.  Sunscreen, swim, rest, repeat.

We ate dinner at our hotel and then headed to the beach for another stunner of a sunset.

The kids literally waved goodbye and then clapped for the sun as it made its final dip below the horizon, as if offering a big giant THANK YOU for all it did for them that day.

Kids playing wave tag is my most very favorite thing to bear witness to.

Goodnight, Maui!  More to come.